Giving birth in the front seat of the family car parked just outside of the main entrance to the hospital on JBER wasn’t what U.S. Army Specialist Luis Mejias and his wife, Katherine Mejais, had planned for the arrival of their second child.
But it is what happened on Aug. 16 at 8:45 a.m. as their new bundle of joy, a baby girl named Lana, was “determined” as Katherine describes it to be born as quickly as possible.
“She popped her head out of me as my husband was driving from our home to the hospital,” Katherine said. “I was worried about her neck, so I had to lift my body up as my husband was driving.”
She knew Luis was concerned that she wasn’t wearing a seat belt, but she had no other choice.
Their home in JBER’s Silver Run housing development near the Boniface entrance is a relatively short drive to the 3rd Medical Group located near the Muldoon entrance to JBER.
But it felt like a long, torturous drive, Katherine said, as the couple worried about the safety of mother and baby. As they drove into the parking lot, another car slowed in front of them making their journey seem even longer.
Luis had called ahead to alert hospital staff that they were on their way.
Major Gookin and two nurses were waiting at the door.
Gookin assessed the situation and determined it was best for Katherine to finish giving birth in the front seat of the vehicle.
“She said to me, ‘OK, go ahead and push,’” Katherine said. “And just like that, her body came right out.”
And just like that, little Miss Lana weighing in at seven pounds and three ounces measuring 20 inches became a part of JBER history becoming the first baby to born curbside at the hospital.
Lana joins her older brother, Luis, IV, who is just 14 months old and was also born at JBER, but inside the hospital.
Katherine is thankful for the much shorter delivery with baby number two.
Luis, IV, took nearly 12 hours to be born. Lana’s delivery was just less than two hours.
Katherine was feeling contractions at 7 a.m. that morning when husband Luis, III, went for his morning march. She started timing. She figured she’d be timing most of the day.
By 8 a.m., the contractions were so close together that she decided to call her husband to take her to the hospital. He was already on his way home.
Luis got his wife in the car and headed to the hospital.
With their first child, Katherine had an epidural. What she was experiencing physically with Lana’s birth was all new to her.
“I had taken my pants off and my husband is like, ‘that’s her head, that’s her head,’” Katherine said.
It was a tense drive, but all’s well that ends well.
Katherine said she felt she was in capable hands the whole way. From the drive to the hospital to the delivery in the roundabout drop-off at the hospital’s entrance, Katherine said she and Lana were well cared for.
She thanked the JBER 3rd Medical Group hospital staff for their professional handling of the situation.
“They were all so happy and smiling. It was a great reassurance to see their smiles,” Katherine said. “I knew everything was going to be alright.”
Luis, III, plays clarinet in the Ninth Army Band.